Quote of the day – on subjectivity, Biblical Hebrew, poetry, and verbs

I came across the following quote today in my research into the verbal system in Biblical Hebrew Poetry.

“It was and still is fairly a [sic] common opinion among scholars, although not always openly declared, that the verbal forms in poetry, more than in prose, can be taken to mean everything the interpreter thinks appropriate according to his understanding and the context.”

[Alviero Niccacci, “The Biblical Hebrew Verbal System in Poetry” in Avi Hurvitz, Stephen E. Fassberg (ed.), Biblical Hebrew in Its Northwest Semitic Setting: Typological and Historical Perspectives (Hebrew University Magnes Press, Jerusalem & Eisenbrauns, Winona Lake, 2006): 247 (full article: 247-68)]

There’s nothing quite as comforting to a Ph.D. student as when one of the biggest names in verbal forms points out the general subjectivity found in the discussion the verbal forms in poetry. At the same time, it’s a bit frustrating to recognize that I’ll have to weed through a lot of claims made that are built on limited evidence.


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